Between 2014 and 2018 Australia commemorates the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since Australia and New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War.
Anzac Day is one of our most important national commemorative occasions. It’s a time of reflection, to remember the original ANZACs who served at Gallipoli and the Western Front, and the service given by Australian servicemen and women.
This year, there’s a number of ways you can honour them. Here are six unusually proper ways you can commemorate the Anzac Centenary on Saturday, 25 April.
Sleep on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria
Did you know the Great Ocean Road was constructed by returned First World War soldiers and it took 14 years to complete? Truth be told, it could stand as the world’s longest war memorial. There’s a memorial arch to be found just west of Aireys Inlet, where a dawn service on Saturday at Point Danger in Torquay will take place. Why not plan a drive there the night before, and the next day, drive to Melbourne for the many Anzac exhibitions being held. The Shrine of Remembrance on Birdwood Av, Melbourne, will display archaeological finds from Gallipoli; with more than 350 wartime artefacts on loan from London’s Imperial War Museums which will be showing at Melbourne Museum. War propaganda, newsreels and features from the early 20th century on display in Federation Square and the Carlton Gardens.
Camp out like you’re in Gallipoli, in several locations
Celebrate Anzac Day by sleeping out under the stars in a digger-style swag. You’ll have plenty of entertainment with guests, films and newfound friends to share stories with before the dawn service on ANZAC morning. Camps take place in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Auckland. See campgallipoli.com.au.
Hold your own gunfire breakfast
One of the traditions of Anzac Day is the ‘gunfire breakfast‘ (coffee with rum added) which occurs shortly after many dawn ceremonies, and recalls the ‘breakfast’ taken by many soldiers before facing battle. In honour of the servicemen and women who fought for us on the front lines, brew a strong coffee and add a swig of rum Anzac morning. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen join together in marches through the major cities and many smaller centres; usually these are busy so arrive early to get a good spot on the footpath and stand in honour to recognise those who are marching on this centenary year.
Wake up early in Canberra
In Canberra at dawn on 25 April, Canberra’s Australian War Memorial will transform into the site of many of the events being staged throughout this year’s commemorations. The National ANZAC Day Ceremony begins at 4.30am and will features a march by Australian war and peacekeeping veterans, along with a wreath laying. A Commemorate Address will be delivered by Sir Peter Cosgrove, before hymns, the minute’s silence and the sounding of the Last Post.
From 22 April, images of servicemen and women will be projected onto the Memorial building. From 4.30am on Anzac Day, excerpts from the diaries and letters of soldiers will be read aloud. Then, at 5.30am, the national’s venerated dawn service begins, attended by the prime minister and governor-general.
Attend the annual Trailblazer 4WD event in Winton, Queensland
In Winton, Anzac Day falls at the end of the Angel Flight Outback Trailblazer 4WD event. Already, there are plenty of people in town who make sure they add the Anzac dawn service and march to the itinerary of their stay. There’s breakfast at the local RSL which follows each year, a Waltzing Matilda Centre open to the public to commemorate the Anzacs, and a lively pianola rendition at the North Gregory Hotel where the Waltzing Matilda song was first played.
Sink your toes into the sand in Albany, Western Australia
Known as the birthplace of the dawn service, Albany was the last place on Australian soil where soldiers gathered before departing for Gallipoli. To commemorate the Anzac Centenary, Albany has a stack of events planned. These include parades, music and drama re-enactments, yacht races, football games, and a race day too. The town square will transform into shades of 1915, with all the town’s sites including the National Anzac Centre, Pier of Remembrance, Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum and Forts Museum open to the public with special exhibitions and events planned.
South of Perth, Albany is a wealth of natural beauty. See the Natural Bridge, formed from centuries of erosion or the awesome power of The Blowholes and The Chasm while suspended above in the safety of a steel cage. More information at Anzacalbany.com.au.